Jockeys on top of the world

FA Cup First Qualifying RoundNewmarket v Brackley, Cricket Field Road, 3pmNewmarket Town are riding high at the top of the Ridgeons League after a tremendous week and now their thoughts return to the FA Cup, writes David Vincent.

FA Cup First Qualifying Round

Newmarket v Brackley, Cricket Field Road, 3pm

Newmarket Town are riding high at the top of the Ridgeons League after a tremendous week and now their thoughts return to the FA Cup, writes David Vincent.

Last Saturday they were winning 4-1 at Lowestoft Town in the Ridgeons League, a good result in anyone's book, and they surpassed that on Tuesday night by defeating defending champions AFC Sudbury on their home turf.

Can life get any better for the Jockeys?

Chairman Allen Collen said: “The way we have started this season we are in danger of getting a nose bleed.

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“Our problem was, when we took over five years ago the team had been very successful but players were coming to the end of their careers at the same time.

“One or two players have gone on to clubs like Sudbury and Histon too and we have had to rebuild the whole team over time.

“The last two or three years have been the rebuilding process and at times results have suffered. We didn't get the luck we deserved last season and we were too close to the bottom of the table. Hopefully we will do better this season.

“It would be great to have a little run in the FA Cup, not just financially but for the prestige and because it builds the confidence of the players as well.

“We are quietly confident.”

A crowd of 150 turned out for the last round, the 5-0 win over Wembley, and the chairman is hoping their good form will attract more.

“We had a little run in the cup a couple of seasons ago and won £8,500 but prize money is less now, £2,250 for this round. But the more people we get along the better and we make a bit if they have a cup of tea, a beer or buy a programme. It all helps.”

Newmarket may be one of the wealthiest towns in the country but most of that money is linked to the racing industry.

The chairman said the football club relied on a large number of small sponsors including BuildMark, the business of veteran player Martin Marris.

“We could always do with more help. Newmarket has its fair share of wealthy people but a lot of them have moved in because of the racing industry and they follow racing a lot.

“It would be nice to get some involved.”

Newmarket's hot-shot striker Alex “Tiger” Rhodes, who hit a hat-trick in the preliminary round of the FA Cup, hit two more goals last Saturday to make it 12 goals this season.

The visit to King's Marsh Stadium on Tuesday was a blank for him but not for his team, who won 2-1 with goals from Stokes and Shaw. Football League scouts are gathering.

Manager Chris Nunn is only in his second season in charge after playing for the club and for Mildenhall and managing the reserves.

“Our start has been incredible really. The boys deserve all the credit. They worked really hard in pre-season and got their fitness levels up.

“We got late goals at Sudbury and Lowestoft, last year we would have conceded late goals.

“The committee stuck with me when things weren't going well last year, I am grateful for that.

“I was tactically naïve last year and perhaps not ruthless enough. I have probably upset a few players already this year. The players have accepted my decisions though not necessarily with a smile on their faces.

“We don't have the money to bring in lots of players so I have to work and develop the players we have got. I prefer that. I only brought in one outfield player in the summer.

“Football is a simple game… when it is going right.”

Brackley Town, from Northamptonshire, were in FA Vase action last Saturday, losing 1-0 at home to Great Yarmouth and manager Tim Fowler has selection problems, especially up front.

Top scorer Ben Milner is doubtful and the team is also hit by suspensions and players who have joined the club recently being cup-tied.

Today's squads

Newmarket: Benstead, Claydon, Winstone, Hatley, Coe, Sobiechowski, Tuck, Ogilvie, Dewbury, Stokes, Shaw, Reed, Rhodes, Hammond and Bunning.

Brackley: Heritage, Eldridge, Byfield (capt), Dedman, Muckelburgh, Champelovier, Norman, King, Field, Neal, Prescott, Stratford, Donaldson, Beckett and Milner.

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